Submariners punished for drunken misconduct

 
HMS Astute

How serious is the problem of drunkenness and indiscipline within the Royal Navy's submarine service?

Figures obtained by the BBC show that there have been more than 300 disciplinary incidents in the past three years on the navy's 13 submarines, including 42 cases of misconduct or unfitness through alcohol or drugs.

The list of disciplinary offences, provided following a freedom of information request, itemises 13 instances of misconduct or unfitness due to alcohol or drugs on the four Trident submarines, which carry nuclear weapons as the nation's nuclear deterrent.

It also details eight drink or drug related incidents on HMS Astute, the submarine on which a junior rating shot dead an officer in April 2011 after binge drinking while on shore leave. All eight cases occurred after this shooting.

An inquest last month into the death of Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux focused attention on what was described as a culture of excessive drinking among the submarine's personnel.

Start Quote

Although alcohol is available on board Royal Navy ships and submarines, its consumption is extremely limited”

End Quote Navy spokesman

The inquest was told that Able Seaman Ryan Donovan had drunk more than 20 pints of cider and lager over two days before the attack, in which he also shot and injured another officer while the submarine was docked in Southampton.

Police investigating the murder were so alarmed about heavy drinking by the crew while ashore that the senior officer wrote to Hampshire's Chief Constable to highlight the issue and the warning was passed to military authorities.

The coroner Keith Wiseman said a culture of drinking to excess had to stop, and recommended that a system of random alcohol testing for crew should be introduced.

The Royal Navy has tightened its rules on alcohol consumption before duty. "We take all disciplinary offences seriously," a navy spokesman said.

"Although alcohol is available on board Royal Navy ships and submarines, its consumption is extremely limited and the RN's promotion of healthy living, coupled with the professionalism of modern sailors, means that fewer sailors drink at sea than ever before," he added.

"This is particularly true of the submarine service due to the demands of operating the boat and the restrictions of working a continuous six-hour watch routine."

Submarines: numbers of offences

2010 2011 2012

Figures based on incidents involving service personnel on submarines

HMS Astute

11

14

26

HMS Ambush

0

3

3

HMS Talent

2

5

3

HMS Tireless

10

4

6

HMS Torbay

3

2

7

HMS Trafalgar

3

0

0

HMS Trenchant

4

22

11

HMS Triumph

7

4

2

HMS Turbulent

16

13

4

HMS Vanguard

14

9

9

HMS Vengeance

22

7

2

HMS Victorious

3

13

23

HMS Vigilant

3

11

10

Total

98

107

106

Total offences 2010-12

311

The most common form of misconduct within the submarine service is going absent without leave, which accounts for about half the incidents.

Download the data

DownloadDisciplinary Incidents within the Submarine Service[95kb]

Alcohol and drug related misbehaviour is the next most frequent issue. According to the Ministry of Defence, these cases mainly involve alcohol rather than drugs.

Those involved are generally punished by a mixture of fines, restriction of privileges and stopping of shore leave.

The navy provided the BBC with details of 311 disciplinary incidents since January 2010 involving service personnel serving on submarines. This covers the 13 submarines in the service, but it can be difficult to contrast the disciplinary records of the various vessels without knowing their schedules and extent of times at sea.

The four Trident submarines are the V-class ones, Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance.

 
Martin Rosenbaum, Freedom of information specialist Article written by Martin Rosenbaum Martin Rosenbaum Freedom of information specialist

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 275.

    Is this REALLY news worthy?
    Or how the FoI Act's use intended?

    BBC: In the spirit of reciprocity pls detail numbers of staff unfit for duty due to drink, drugs or disciplined for bringing the service into disrepute.

    Has the BBC damaged its previously positive links with the MOD/Submariners due to this non-report?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 274.

    Would love to see how all the people here writing negative comments would cope being underwater for 3 month's or more....not very well I think!!!Everyone enjoy's a drink once you get back from a patrol which is something that helps you de-stress.This doesn't mean everyone then turn's up for a duty still pissed.I have plenty of run's ashore but never once turned up hungover for a duty!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 273.

    The navy does take it lightly, in fact drinking on board is rare it is one of the traditions that has died out and why the hell should we limit the amount we drink when we are off work we have a highly demanding job with little time off rubbish hours and poorly payed for the effort, physical strain we under go to protect THIS COUNTRY to allow you idiots the right to FREEDOM and all its liberties

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 272.

    im sickened by some of the comment on here, people really need to think about what they say, special when service personel like myself can read the crap some of you write, if you are found to be drunk on duty or hangover it is a serious crime, in fact it and lead to going to prison (colchester).

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 271.

    Any chance we'll get to see how many BBC staff have had criminal convictions in recent years? Drunken incidents? Let's ask Andrew marr....

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 270.

    As we are all aware, the Royal Navy has had a number of well documented incidents in the media over the last few years, the HMS Astute tragedy being the most shocking. However all of these incidents have been dealt with effectively and the punishments have been severe. Isn't it time the British Media stop broadcasting the negative points and start highlighting all the good work our Sailors do.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 269.

    Winston Churchill once described the traditions of the Royal Navy as 'Rum and buggery', it's the navy they get board. Lets put this in perspective, their discipline and courage is greater than the average citizen and they do a thankless job keeping the chattering living room liberals safe. The fact it is being reported and discipline maintained is a credit to the chain of command.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 268.

    @265 no worries I also misread it as you can see. I don't think you'll find any argument that being in control of any ships system or weapon whilst under the influence of alcohol is something that should never happen. As it is something that should never happen and there are very strict rules in place to stop this. The Astute incident should never have happened. Drinking is reserved for time off.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 267.

    Get a grip!!

    Gr8 we show statistics that show the world we have 13 Submarines, and which sub has most disciplinary unrest, very useful info for an enemey wouldn't you think.

    We need to get a grip of stop being sooo PC and start doing what is best for our troops and our country.

    Giving out this information is just dangerous and encourages arms race.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 266.

    It would make the armed forces far more attractive if they slackened the rules on alcohol, gays, and recreational drugs this would make the navy a perfect environment for a 'YOUNG MAN' to enjoy a lovely time 'IN THE NAVY'

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 265.

    263.Dickie - yup, my fault I did imisread it.


    262.FOI Master - when it comes to nucleur powered (& sometimes armed too) submarines it is utterly ridiculous to suggest that being under the influence whilst on duty is somehow acceptable....

    ....heavy boozing should be saved for time off only.....

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 264.

    Sorry, not the minority, the second highest. So say, 151 for AWOLs + 42 alcohol related offences and, as the NDA covers a lot of other offences, the remaining 118 offences are split between them. Which includes parking offences, disrespectful behaviour, poor state of dress etc...

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 263.

    @260 read the article. It clearly states that of the 311 disciplinary incidents, of which the majority was AWOL, 42 were alcohol related. Not the majority, the minority. No, I don't go home. But these incidents occur alongside, when people do go home. We don't drink at sea. Alongside we do work like a normal job. With the exception of duties, then, as Dave said, we do those sober and don't drink.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 262.

    @255 Little Old Me...You are not in the Service and you have never had the privilege of being on a submarine and watching those professionals at work. Ergo you don't know what you are talking about. Do you really think everyone has a lie in after a heavy night apart from AB Bloggs who has to get up on his own because its his turn to drive the boat and keep his eye on the reactor?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 261.

    Sensational journalism, try showing the same statistics for the investigating police force and Members of Parliament

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 260.

    257.Dickie


    As the MOD make clear the majority of the offences involve alcohol.

    Being RN is not like a normal career - you are not off work in the same most people are when they go home for the night/weekend etc.....

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 259.

    @233 - I'm sorry but you have made yourself sound very foolish. I currently serve in the Submarine Service and can state they we/they are the most professional of servicemen facing the harshest and unforgiving environments. Switch off at sea and we die, it's as simple as that. We drink ashore, but not at sea and when I take charge of a duty watch I ensure they are fit to carry out their tasks.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 258.

    And the most drinking I have seen at sea has been a glass of port in the wardroom or can of beer or cider in the senior rates mess on special occasions. We didn't even splice the main brace when at sea for the jubilee but waited until we were alongside. Nobody is drunk or hungover in charge of ships systems.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 257.

    @255 no, the article is about the number of submariners that have been punished over 3 years, 42 of which is reported as alcohol related. Now, I serve on one of those boats and can tell you for a fact that alcohol related offences include being late for work after being out drinking the night before. We don't just do duty. If you're unfit for duty, you don't do it and the punishment is harsher.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 256.

    I served on diesel boats in 1980's,conditions on board far apart from submarines of today.We didnt have washing machines,rowing machines,clean uniform etc.Our treat,a sunday shave! modern submariners have it 'cushdy! we didnt need guns for protection Yes we did drink on shore leave lots! very rarely at sea and never when 'dived,totally proffessional! we worked hard! history says sailors get drunk!

 

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